R.I. Court Upholds Catholic School Hair Policy

The Rhode Island Supreme Court has rejected a student’s challenge to a Roman Catholic school’s policy regulating hairstyles.

On July 15, the justices held in Gorman v. St. Raphael Aca­demy that it is not “within the province of the court to inject itself in the rule-making authority of a private school.”

Russell Gorman and his parents sued the school in 2001 after Gorman refused the school’s order to cut his mullet, a style where the hair is cropped short on the top and sides and runs long down the back of the neck. A lower state court ruled in Gorman’s favor, finding the school acted capriciously in enforcing the hair length policy.

The state Supreme Court, however, reversed that decision.         “Private schools,” the justices said, “must have considerable latitude to formulate and enforce their own rules to accomplish their academic and educational objectives.”